The Konk Life Candidate Questionnaire:
Conducted by Mark Howell.
Steve K. Smith
FKMCD Commissioner, Dist 3
- In 20 words or less, let our readers know the reasons in general that you believe you would make the very best person to fulfill the position for which you are running.
- My 20 years experience and over 700 hours education insure Monroe County has the best mosquito control program possible.
- What specifically are the top four factors you believe qualify you over the assets of any other potential candidate?
- 1. I understand the importance of mosquito control to our economy and enjoyment of the Keys; 2. I support fair and responsible budgets so we can do our job; 3. I encourage research on new mosquito control techniques and technology to protect our health and economy; 4. It has been my policy to insure we have trained staff and adequate resources so we can eliminate the risk of disease transmission and immediately respond to potential threats.
- What is your personal view on the state of the nation in this year’s particularly interesting political season?
- There are many challenges facing voters during this period. Americas’ economy has rebounded significantly. I hope that the results of the election will continue the stimulating progress we are enjoying.
- Given your personal awareness of governance in Southeast Florida, are you optimistic about relations between the public and the powers that be?
- The ‘powers that be’ should remember they are public servants and charged with making the best decisions for all their constituents. Power driven obstructionism has had a chilling effect on the publics’ trust. The ‘powers that be’ should listen to the public, make wise thoughtful decisions, work together, and operate openly and transparently and regain the public trust.
- Do you feel that the general tenor of political discourse is becoming less polite in Monroe County or staying about the same?
The tenor of discourse is often determined by what is said and read. We are friends and neighbors who rely on truthful reporting and good communications which will enlighten the public and lead to understanding and trust. Too often a lack of understanding and misinformation are causing discontent among our community. I believe in stating the facts and truthfully answering questions. I have worked to provide the best mosquito control in the nation, partisanship obstruction is creating unnecessary challenges to the integrity of our program.
- Tell us more about your personal history –- your work and family life –- and how they relate to your political ambitions.
- A. I am a 5th generation Florida native who some 25 years ago drove to Key West with my possessions in a van. Always active in community affairs, I formerly managed the Key West Business Guild, then joined the Florida Keys & Key West Tourism office where I was active in the Key West Chamber of Commerce, the Attractions Association, and the Innkeepers Association.
With the knowledge that our economy was tourism based and we needed good mosquito control to thrive, I ran for a seat on the Board taking office in 1996. I ran on a platform that our community needed a scientific approach to mosquito control in the Florida Keys. By supporting changes with strong leadership, education and outreach our mosquito program has become a respected leader in innovative vector control across our nation. The dedication to my constituents during my time in office have enabled me to become the most educated and experienced commissioner on our board. Throughout the years my mantra has been to ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’. Being in touch with the needs of our program and community occasionally pits me against the majority who don’t always seem to understand their roles.
- From your personal experience, would a generally peaceable outlook in the Keys depend upon a measure of control over the number of our visitors and residents?
- Tourism is what drives our economy and the success of our tourism is due to our unique community and its residents. It is important that our elected officials look for ways to expand our workforce housing and infrastructure so our residents can continue to live and work here on our chain of islands. Without our vibrant community, the allure of the keys will be tarnished.
- What do you personally love most about Monroe County and the Florida Keys?
- There is a magical quality about living on a chain of islands extending through the sea – it is stunning yet challenging. We are part of a family that lives together, works together, and reaches out to help one another, while enjoying the uniqueness of island life. We take ownership of our community and strive to protect the special qualities we enjoy. Volunteerism and generosity are at the top of the list of qualities that our locals share. I am proud that I have made decisions and contributions to protect our quality of life.
- What troubles you the most about today’s Monroe County and the Florida Keys?
- Workforce housing is a critical need that is discussed with little real action being taken. If our employees can’t afford to live here how will our community thrive? We need to trust our elected leaders to resolve this issue soon. Our leaders do recognize that climate issues are beginning to have an effect on our sea levels and tidal changes. There is time to address the rising sea level, but we must begin to address it now and make plans for our future.
- Who is your favorite character in the history of the keys?
- Wilhelmina Harvey, a pioneer in women in politics
- Who is your least favorite character?
- As a new resident to Key West I was the director of volunteers for AIDS Help. AIDS had a devastating effect on our colorful community taking so many talented individuals from us in the prime of their lives. We are better from having known these members of our family, but our hearts are still broken.
- What is your favorite book?
- Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls
- What is your favorite movie?
- Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. A romantic blend of science fiction and a love story.
- What is your favorite quote?
- ‘To make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it’. Edward W. Bok’s grandmother.